BRAIN MODULARITY, NONLOCALITY, CONSCIOUSNESS, QUANTUM

MANY BRAINS NEED ONE MIND…

Abstract: Brain modularity makes consciousness mandatory to enable motor neural command. Consciousness thus has to act as one, but nonlocally. The analogy with the Quantum Effect, how the whole gets to the point, is absolute. Thus it is compelling to suggest both physical phenomena are actually one.

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It is known that the human mind consists of many specialized units designed by the process of natural selection. For example, there are auditory, visual, equilibrium, fear, language systems (Broca area, Wernicke area)… There is for example a system to detect motion (to spot predators, dangers and prey). Balance is processed in the cerebellum, short term memory in the hippocampus, etc.

While these modules often work together seamlessly, they don’t always, resulting in impossibly contradictory beliefs, or, more fundamentally contrary desires (or watch what happen when patients have Parkinson). A little sound in the bush can mean delicious prey, dangerous snake, or a calmly waiting leopard (the latter happened to me in Africa, for real. Twice.) The possibilities are connected to wildly different e-motions: move to grab, move to flee. Thus several contradictory systems can get pre-activated (amygdalia for fear, hunting systems).  

The modular view of the mind evolved, starting in the Nineteenth Century with the discovery of various localizations in the brain (some even overdid it, and confused brain and shape of the skull).

That the brain is made of brains is not a new discovery. But I claim the consequence is mandatory consciousness. That’s new.

A contemporary author makes moralistic conclusions from the observed modularity. Modularity would cause “vacillations between patience and impulsiveness, violations of our supposed moral principles, and overinflated views of ourselves”. 

Modularity suggests to the same author that there is no “I”, no “self”. Instead, he insists that each of us is a contentious and debating “we”—a collection of discrete, interacting systems whose constant exchanges shape our interactions with one another and our experience of the world. This sort of revelation is not new: it’s already found in Freud, following the French neurology professor of Freud, Jean-martin Charcot, and Nietzsche… And originally Sade, or even Socrates and his famous “demons”. 

Verily, while brain modularity is known to be true, that doesn’t imply there is no “I”. Just the opposite. Come to think of it.

Consciousness exists, just to fabricate that “I”. To fabricate an executive agent, the “I”. The “I” engages the neuromotor system, and, or the hierarchy of modules within. One authority to decide is necessary, so the “I” is necessary.

So what is this consciousness made of, how does it work? Many of the brightest minds have considered the question. I, in turn, question what they questioned, and the little they knew. 

Descartes, contrarily to what Demasio assumed, was no fool, and more penetrating a mind that Demasio… three centuries earlier. Descartes’ observations on the nature of mathematical reasoning were so deep, I was really surprised (as I thought only yours truly was capable of them, being a mix of the bold, the deep and the obvious).

Descartes, of course, had no idea of Quantum Mechanics. QM was hard to produce: Planck was amazing that way, and then came a flurry of geniuses: Einstein, Bohr, Bose, De Broglie, Heisenberg, Dirac, Pauli… (Among others.)

Francis Crick came up with what he grandiloquently called “the astonishing hypothesis”. It posits that “a person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influence them.” Crick claims that scientific study of the brain during the 20th century led to acceptance of consciousness, free will, and the human soul as subjects for scientific investigation. Of course none of this is new, except for the detailed machinery: Descartes proposed the soul was in the Pituitary gland, and asserted animals (hence, implicitly, humans) were machines… 

Meanwhile the notion of machines has now been completely changed in something nonlocal and quirky, thanks to Quantum Mechanics, which has blown up laboratory reality into something… cosmic. Thus Crick and all others miss one point: the brain is not a classical machine, it’s a Quantum one. How do I know this? In the simplest way: the universe is Quantum, not classical. Quantum is complex, first of all, because it’s nonlocal. That means reality is entangled at a distance: that’s the entire challenge of the Quantum computer. Recently a baby Quantum computer entangled ten photons: that was viewed as a great success. In a brain, at least trillions of trillions of particles get entangled, each microsecond…

Guess what? To treat all these brain modules as one, to bring them to cooperate, one conductor, consciousness too, has to be nonlocal. 

Right, a sort of classical non locality in the brain is not just imaginable, but a fact: why else all those long connections (axons) throughout the brain? But the brain is involved in zillions of zillions of Quantum processes every microsecond (zillions is a tech term meaning more than any known number; just kidding but not really). 

Some will say QM is not room temperature, not long range at room temperature, etc. But they don’t know anything, they just talk like they know they are supposed to. In truth, High Temperature Superconductivity is a fact… And NOT explained. The only thing clear is that long range, non local Quantum effects are involved (the efficiency is 100%). If, out of a trillion Quantum processes in the brain in one microsecond, one such processes delocalize enough to cover the brain, that’s enough to create a plausible Quantum substrate for Quantum epistemology.

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Don’t sneer that Quantum effects would be too small, involve too few particles. A few Quantum particles (“Lichtquanten” of Einstein) can have a big effect: when a probe passing Pluto at an infernal clip shot photons towards Earth, very few of these were received. Actually, Voyager I, launched decades ago, and now out of the heliosphere is an even better example [1]. We get just one photon from Voyager every few seconds, but that’s enough.

Quantum Mechanics computes by being all over simultaneously. The brain does the same, because being all over the place, in all localities simultaneously, enables contextual computing. Consciousness then tries to put some order, to result in action items.

 

The exact same thing happens in Quantum Mechanics: the fabrication of order in Quantum Mechanics is from singularization (also known as “collapse of the wave packet” which happens after “decoherence”, a distinction of no difference…)… Which is equivalent to CONSCIOUSLY firing a particular module in the brain by connecting to the action neurology (the neuromotor cortex and sub-systems such as the intestine, with its 35,000 neurons…). 

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In conclusion, that the brain was made of modules was already obvious to Descartes, and amply confirmed by 1900 CE. What is new is that now we have a candidate to use as a  medium for consciousness: what underlays Quantum Physics itself, with its nonlocal, and non-measurable nature.

Philosophically, the Brain and the Quantum exist to steer globally according to local conditions [2]. The Quantum is the solution to the same problem the Brain has: how to steer the general, from local conditions.

Suggesting that consciousness is a Quantum phenomenon from the preceding is not foolhardy. There is a precedent. After Maxwell found that electromagnetic waves were going at the speed of light, he suggested to identify both. The situation here is not as clear, and we don’t have a few equations and one speed. Instead we have the need for brain nonlocality, from brain modularity. Right, it is classically achieved with axons. But it is tempting to suggest the feeling of existence is achieved through the Quantum.

Patrice Ayme

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[1] Passing Jupiter Voyager I sent photons towards an antenna which received around 700 of them per second. Now it’s roughly 20 billion kilometers away, 40 times further, so the same antenna would receive only 700/(40^2) ~ one photon every two seconds. We still can get a correct information flow from that. Point is we don’t need to many event to picture a higher signal.

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[2] This is the famous two-slit experiment. What is local (a slit) is having a global effect (the global interference pattern). Similarly a Brain has to take into account what is found locally to establish a general, adaptable model of reality 

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5 Responses to “BRAIN MODULARITY, NONLOCALITY, CONSCIOUSNESS, QUANTUM”

  1. John Goldman Says:

    Dear Patrice,

    On the Maxwell analogy; there is a very important commonality between consciousness and QM, and that is information.
    Clearly the brain’s main function is the processing of information, which is responsible for the subjective experience of “I”.
    The main difference between classical and quantum mechanics is accounting for information. That is, in QM information is conserved (known as unitarity). Schrodinger’s equation reduces to Lagrangian mechanics when information is factored out.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear John: Sorry about the delayed “moderation”… I was busy, in the future your comments should appear instantaneously…
      The “information” idea network has been around for even much longer than the 40 year old “it from bit” of Wheeler…
      However, I don’t know what “information” is. I believe in matter waves (although they are not conceptually complete, I also believe)
      https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/tag/matter-waves/
      View at Medium.com

      Basically, to put it philosophically, first approach, I believe information to be material. When talking the smallest, Matter/Quantum Waves, the “information” is both from waves and environment… My Dark matter theory rests on a loss of information (where the DM is). This is why DM interacts nearly nought…

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      • John Goldman Says:

        Dear Patrice

        I am broadly in agreement with most of what you write if not with such conviction.
        My interest in information was initially to comprehend the source of consciousness.
        Classically information was not considered to be physical until the subject of quantum mechanics was developed.
        In QM information is found to be conserved.
        I think this is most clearly understood through the log transform of the wave function so that instead of dealing with amplitude and phase, the variables become information and action.
        This also changes the terms in the wave equation so that they then become functions rather than operators.
        (This is where Bohm’s quantum potential appears.)
        The equation separates into a classical physics part and a continuity part which determines that information is conserved.
        That makes information the most “real” property in nature, because it is conserved without restriction, whereas energy, momentum and spin are only conserved so far as time and space are isotropic.

        The manifestation of information in the neural network of sentient systems is an on going area of research, but there is no alternative source of sentience (unless you can think of one?).

        On the topic of matter, the information-action function very naturally extends from complex to quaternion to explain the 3 generations of fermions (neutrinos), especially as Hurwitz integers naturally account for fermion spin etc.
        Then continuing on this 1+3 theme from time-space and information-action leads one to consider that force fields may have this same structure.
        That is the strong and electromagnetic forces being a single 3d force and gravity being the associated 1d force. (The weak force is a manifestation of generation aspect of fermions.)
        This is all wild speculation but it nicely accounts for all the standard model particles (3d force) and in addition for 3 “heavy” neutrinos which only interact gravitationally (1d force) that is dark matter.
        Incidentally, notice that time, information and gravity do not have a negative sense in contrast to space, action/spin and colour-charge force.
        So I would suspect that dark matter particles have no antiparticles.

        It is all speculation, but I thought you might be interested to complement your own ideas. I am personally more interested in the various structures of neural networks and the way in which they correspond to aspects of personal identity and behaviour.

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear John: You blind me with science… :-)…
          One of my main activities is to question axioms… I have no idea where it was demonstrated QM preserved information. I was around Hawking Penrose Yau and company when they were all hot about information… Instead I became everybody’s enemy by pointing out in a series of seminars at Stanford that Black Holes theory had Quantum gaps… (I was right…)

          My own DM theory rests precisely on a Quantum wave loss… I view the waves as more fundamental than the C* algebra machinery grafted by Von Neumann… I mean latter is “true”, like Newtonian mechanics is (mostly) “true”… Or any sentence is, both potentially true, false, and certainly incomplete… So, for me, QM is actually false… Interestingly, General Relativity doesn’t say that as frankly about Newtonian mechanics (the 1/dd law is valid at arbitrary distance… in the near absence of matter… whereas for me, collapse shreds and become schizoid at great distances…)

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  2. ronaldscheckelhoff Says:

    Good post. I agree that real brain activity (the kind that causes intelligence) – is of a quantum, nonlocal nature. A quantum nature explains the plasticity of the brain, and also explains function relocation after injury. Classical nerve signal interactions cannot begin to explain human intelligence. A quantum nonlocal nature does so easily. And – the massive parallelism and any-part-to-almost-any-other-part phenomenon of brain networking is explained easily by nonlocal communications.

    I think the major brain pathways are really “primer” pathways that give rise to quantum communication channels which then carry on with orders of magnitude more action. Natural decay causes channels to close, and the primer pathways are used again.

    We see only the initial primer activations (because we cannot see nonlocal communication with the same kit). When doctors attach scalp sensors and look at brain activity, they are seeing only the accumulated voltage of tens of thousands of neurons (takes about fifty thousand of them to even see with sensitive metering) – but they are looking at primer signals.

    This is just an opinion from somebody who writes scifi for fun, but every once in a while some science news item catches my eye, and I find myself nodding my head up and down.

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